Kingdom of Bohemia

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Kingdom of Bohemia
Crown Lands of the Bohemian Crown (1348–1918)
Holy Roman Empire (1198–1806)
Austrian Empire (1804–67)
Cisleithania in Austria-Hungary (1867–1918)
Království české
Kingdom of Bohemia (red) and countries of the Bohemian Crown (light red) in the Holy Roman Empire (1618)
Kingdom of Bohemia (red) and countries of the Bohemian Crown (light red) in the Holy Roman Empire (1618)
capital city Prague
Today part of Czech Republic
  • Creation 1182
  • The End 1918

The Kingdom of Bohemia ( Czech České království , Latin Regnum Bohemiae ) was a monarchy on what is now the Czech territory of the historical region of Bohemia in Central Europe and formed the core area of ​​the countries of the Bohemian Crown belonging to it . These countries formed the north-western part of the Habsburg Monarchy from 1526 and had Prague as their royal capital.

The kingdom came into being in 1198 and was part of the Holy Roman Empire from its inception until 1806 . In 1804 the kingdom was elevated to an Austrian crown land , which, as before , was ruled by the dynasty of the House of Habsburg , then under the Austrian Empire . After the defeat of Austria-Hungary in World War I, the monarchy was dissolved in the republican Czechoslovakia on October 31, 1918 .


Origin of kingship

The Bohemian Kingdom emerged as the successor state to the Duchy of Bohemia . In 1085 Vratislav II was crowned the first king. The kingdom was only formally founded in 1198 by Ottokar I. Přemysl , who had declared the Bohemian crown hereditary. The Premyslid dynasty ruled over Bohemia for 200 years (until 1306). Under the various monarchs of the dynasty, the monarchy temporarily acquired territories in Austria , Slovenia and northern Italy and extended as far as the Adriatic Sea . Due to the increase in power, the kingdom was granted a special position within the Holy Roman Empire .

Middle Ages and Modern Times

Portrait of Wenceslas II , King of Bohemia ( Codex Manesse , 14th century)
Reformation Hussites fight against Catholic crusaders (Jena Codex, 15th century)

In 1310 the House of Luxembourg took power. Through a policy of modernization under the Luxembourgers, Bohemia developed into a great power . The Kingdom of Bohemia experienced a period of prosperity and progress, especially under King Karl I ( Karel I in Czech ), who ruled from 1346 to 1378 and was at the same time as Charles IV Roman-German Emperor. In 1348 he founded the Charles University named after him in Prague . It was one of the first universities in the world. Under Karl I./IV. the royal capital Prague was also expanded and developed into a cosmopolitan city .

While Charles I./IV. The rulership of Bohemia extended to the area of Brandenburg and Silesia . After his death in 1378, the reformist Protestant movement of the Hussites also gained strength . The Hussites sought a reformation of the entire Catholic Church .

In 1415 Jan Hus , spiritual leader of the movement and temporarily rector of Charles University, was executed at the Council of Constance , contrary to previous assurances . In 1420 the religiously motivated Hussite Wars broke out, in which diverse social tensions erupted in Bohemia. This brutally waged civil war lasted until 1436 and claimed tens of thousands of deaths. In 1466 a Catholic uprising broke out in the country and the Polish Jagiellons came to the Bohemian royal throne.

In 1526 the House of Habsburg took control of the kingdom and its crown lands and incorporated it into the Habsburg monarchy . Nevertheless, Bohemia was able to maintain a certain autonomy. In 1618 there was an uprising of the largely Protestant Bohemian nobility against the Catholic ruling house. In 1619, Bohemia and its countries broke away from the Habsburg Empire. But the newly won independence only lasted for a short time. With the defeat of Bohemia in the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, the kingdom was reintegrated into the empire. Ferdinand II , crowned king in 1617, and his successors rigorously suppressed any resistance among the population. Especially during the Thirty Years War , the inhabitants of Bohemia were exposed to increasing repression. The war severely devastated parts of the country and resulted in a continuous population decline. Only the Duchy of Friedland owned by General Wallenstein was largely spared from the war and enjoyed an economic boom.

During the reign of Maria Theresa (1740–1780) in the age of absolutism , Bohemia experienced extensive tolerance and the relationship between the kingdom and the ruling house improved again. At the same time, the country was threatened by the emerging northern neighbor Prussia . In 1740 the Prussian army under King Frederick the Great occupied Silesia - at that time still a country of Bohemia - and Bohemia had to cede it in 1742. In 1757, during the Seven Years' War, Prussian troops even advanced into Prague and inflicted defeat on the Austrians.


Bohemia and its countries (highlighted) within Austria-Hungary , 1910
Laws and ordinances from 1850 for the crown land of Bohemia (excerpt from the chronological overview)

After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, Bohemia became part of the Austrian Empire . The centralized administration developed a strong opposition and a reviving national feeling of the Bohemians ( Czechs ).

During the revolutions of 1848 the Whitsun Uprising in Prague broke out . This revolt was put down and there were no fundamental changes in the administration. The various revolutions of the peoples in the Austrian Empire and the successive defeats of the Austrians in the Italian Wars of Independence and in the German War of 1866 against Prussia called for reforms.

After the establishment of the partially federal Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1867, Bohemia became a partially autonomous crown land within the Austrian half of the empire . The newly introduced addition imperial and royal of the monarchy also referred to the Bohemian crown and was intended to demonstrate the equality of the Bohemian kingdom with Hungary .

At the time of the dual monarchy, Bohemia was able to regain a certain degree of internal independence. The Viennese government approached Prague through new laws that made Czech and German equal official languages , for example , and attempts were made to achieve a compromise between Austria and the Czech Republic . Emperor and King Franz Joseph I ( František Josef I in Czech ) refused to be crowned King of Bohemia because he feared similar demands from the Czechs as from the Magyars . This and the worsening nationality conflict between the Germans and the Czechs made Czech nationalism stronger. At the turn of the century, the crown land was already showing open separatist tendencies (see Young Czechs ). There were demonstrations, some of which were violent , on several important occasions, such as memorial days or in 1908 when Franz Joseph I celebrated his 60th anniversary as Emperor of Austria .

During World War I , despite reports of mass desertions on the Eastern Front, most of the Bohemians fought for the monarchy. However, due to supply shortages and hunger, the mood changed from 1916 onwards, which was evident in the formation of a republican Czech-Slovak government in exile under Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk . The increased attachment of the Habsburg Empire to the German Empire also led to displeasure among the Czech subjects and cost the monarchy its last sympathies. The new emperor and king Karl I / III also changed this. ( Karel III in Czech ) nothing more.

The defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1918 and the end of Austria-Hungary on October 31 also sealed the end of the Crown Land. On October 31, 1918, three days after Czechoslovakia's declaration of independence on October 28, the Kingdom of Bohemia was officially incorporated into the new Czechoslovak Republic , against the resistance of the German minority . Czech officials had already peacefully assumed power in the kingdom and in November 1918 declared the Bohemian monarchy to be abolished.

As an administrative unit, Bohemia existed as a region until the end of the Second World War . Today the former kingdom is just one historical geographical region of the Czech Republic .

Politics and administration

The Kingdom of Bohemia has been part of the Holy Roman Empire since its inception . As one of the seven, later nine electors, the king was one of the highest-ranking imperial princes , who since the 13th century had the sole right to elect the Roman-German king , who traditionally had the right to be crowned Roman-German emperor by the pope . The domain of the Bohemian kings also included the countries belonging to the Bohemian Crown beyond the actual kingdom .

The state representation, the Bohemian state parliament , was one of the oldest in Central Europe and passed the first constitution of the kingdom as early as 1500 with the Vladislav regional order . In the state parliament around 1500 only 30 families of the Bohemian gentry managed the fate of the country. In addition to the land-owning knighthood, they formed the upper class of the Bohemian nobility and were subject to a privileged jurisdiction, enjoyed personal tax exemption and other things. This small group of leading families had a constitutional position that went far beyond that of the nobility in other countries. Internal strife arose, however, through the Hussite Wars and the counter-reformation measures of Ferdinand II , which ultimately led to the class uprising of 1618 . After its suppression, Ferdinand II disempowered the nobility through the Renewed Land Order of May 10, 1627. Numerous large Protestant landowners emigrated ( exiles ) , their lands were mostly taken over by military leaders and statesmen loyal to the emperor, some of whom came from Austria, while those who remained in the country Nobles and citizens were subjected to a sharp Counter-Reformation with the support of the Jesuits . The new constitution secured absolute royal rule. The previously at least nominally elective monarchy , comparable to the Kingdom of Poland , finally became a hereditary monarchy and Bohemia became part of the hereditary lands of the House of Habsburg .

The institutions were democratized from 1848 onwards. On December 30, 1849, the first modern state constitution for Bohemia was enacted. It was repealed in 1851 and with its reinstatement by the February patent 1861 became the basis of the new constitutional monarchy .

From 1804 the kingdom formed a crown land of the Austrian Empire . In 1867, Bohemia became a crown land of the Austrian half of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy and, as a partially sovereign member state with an elected state parliament with 242 members, had the right to send members to the Reichsrat in Vienna. As chairman of the state parliament, the Oberstlandmarschall appointed by the emperor, who also presided over the state committee, ruled an authority which was formed from eight state parliament members and was the executive and representative body of the state. Political administration was exercised by the Imperial and Royal Lieutenancy with its seat in Prague and the 102 district authorities and 2 municipal offices (cities with their own statutes) subordinate to it.

Administrative structure

16 districts of Bohemia, 1847
Districts of Bohemia, 1889

As crown land, the Kingdom of Bohemia was an administrative unit of the entire state of the Habsburg Empire.

From 1867 the Kingdom of Bohemia was divided into 104 political districts and 229 judicial districts . Previously, Bohemia was divided into seven to 16 larger districts ( Czech Kraj ) from the 14th century .


The rulers of Bohemia carried the title of King of Bohemia . There were 37 kings in total. Most came from the House of Habsburg or Habsburg-Lothringen and were mostly also the Margraves of Moravia and Dukes of Silesia in personal union .


Railway network in Bohemia, 1883

The Kingdom of Bohemia has been an important economic pillar of the Habsburg Empire since the late Middle Ages . First of all, mainly agricultural.

In the course of industrialization , Bohemia and its countries became the driving force behind the economic boom of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The kingdom developed into an industrial state . With Lower Austria, Bohemia took the top position in all of Austria and was one of the first industrial countries in Europe. In 1890, Bohemia had 130,806 industrial and 94,367 commercial trades. Among the former there were 3769 factories with a motor power of 185,407 horse powers and 353,684 workers.

The agriculture and industry were the main occupations of the residents. Only three percent of the territory of Bohemia was agriculturally unproductive. The remaining 97% accounted for over 50% arable land , 11% meadows and gardens, 5% pastures, 29% forest and the remainder mainly ponds and rivers. The harvest in 1900 consisted of the following products, which were produced in significant quantities: wheat , rye , barley , oats , legumes , rape , poppy seeds , flax, chicory , potatoes , sugar beet , fodder beet , cabbage, clover hay, grass hay, hops (mainly in Saaz and Auscha ), wine and fruit (especially apples and plums ). At the end of 1900 the number of livestock was 229,564 horses , 2,258,338 cattle , 228,307 sheep , 688,822 pigs and 316,834 goats , bees (1900: 199,604 hives) and 7,445,330 chickens and geese .

The forests included 1910 1.507.325 hectares, most of which (1,368,331 hectares) on softwood accounted for. About two thirds were owned by large Czech and German landowners and nobles. The hunting provided large yield in Bohemia. In 1896 17,575 large game and 346,877 small haired game were shot, then 385,014 game birds, 15,784 haired game and 43,404 game birds were shot in predatory game. The yield from pond fishing (especially carp ) was also significant .

In the raw materials known at that time, the kingdom had significant amounts of silver ore and silver in Příbram , iron ore in Krušná hora and Nučic , in the royal court and Kladno over pig iron, lead in Přibram, tin and antimony in Tábor , uranium in Sankt Joachimsthal , alum slate and graphite near Krumlov as well as mineral paints, china clay, refractory clay, precious and semi-precious stones and work stones etc. in different places. The most important mining product was coal. In 1901 hard coal was the most extracted , followed by lignite . The total value of this mine and smelter production amounted to 162,717,464 crowns in the same year (50% of the total value for the Austrian half of the empire). The 297 mining and 25 metallurgical companies employed a total of 70,124 workers.

The most important industry in the country, the metal industry , supplied welding and mild iron as well as mild steel, cast iron goods, iron wire, black and tinplate, steel rails and other railway material, nails and wire nails, wire ropes, iron pipes, cookware, etc., as well as copper, lead and Pewter, lamps, gold and silver ware. The machine factories (mainly in Prague and the surrounding area, Reichenberg and Pilsen ) supplied especially steam engines and boilers, agricultural machines, then equipment for sugar factories, beer breweries, mills, etc. Railway carriages were in a large factory near Prague, musical instruments in Prague, Reichenberg, Königgrätz , Graslitz and Schönbach . The glass industry , which was naturalized in the kingdom as early as the 13th century from the Republic of Venice , comprised 82 glassworks, 41 glass refineries and 95 factories for glass hardware and employed a total of 13,869 workers. In addition to numerous in-house industrial operations for the crystal glass refinery in Haida , for the glass haberdashery industry and belting in the Gablonz district , there was a strong ceramic industry. The porcelain industry, for which there were 42 factories, 22 of them near Karlsbad , was also important. The textile industry was also of great relevance in Bohemia. The cloth manufacturing was strongest in Reichenberg, the worsted weaving in Aussig , Asch , Böhmisch Aicha etc., the linen industry in the area of Trautenau , Hohenelbe and Georgswalde .

The food industry was also extensive , to which the beet sugar industry, especially in the middle of the Elbe, belonged. In 1899/1900 there were 138 factories employing 46,697 workers and producing 5 million quintals of sugar (i.e. about 61% of Cisleithania's total production). There were also 649 breweries producing 9,228,362 hl of beer. The best known is still the Pilsner beer . In addition, there was an important alcohol industry (251 distilleries with a production of 399,000 hl), malt and pressed yeast production, chocolate and candy production, coffee substitute production, liqueur and vinegar production and the milling industry. Other branches of industry were the manufacture of paper (65 factories with 66 paper machines), leather, shoes, gloves, hats, buttons, children's toys, ink, pencils, chemical products (especially at Aussig, Kralup , Prague), oil, soaps and candles , refined kerosene, explosive powder, primers and cartridges, matches, tobacco and cigars (7 factories with 8,791 workers), a book and lithographic printing plant in Prague and the production of cameras and photographic templates.

Another important economic sector was trade, the center of which was Prague.

The Bohemian transport network benefited from the country's location between the German Empire and the rest of Austria-Hungary. At the end of 1900 the railway network had reached an area of ​​5927 km and was the densest in the entire monarchy. In the same period, Bohemia had 29,162 km of roads (4294 km of which were imperial roads). In terms of waterways , only the Elbe and Vltava were of importance. Post and telegraph traffic were used by 1489 post offices and 796 telegraph companies. The stock exchange in Prague , eleven independent banks, 47 branches of other banks, 1846 trade and business cooperatives and 200 savings banks with a deposit of 1,167 million kroner took care of the needs of money and credit transactions.


Language distribution in Central Europe, 1906

In terms of population , Bohemia took second place among the countries of Cisleithania (after the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria ) and in terms of population density third (after the Archduchy of Austria under the Enns and the Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia ). The kingdom was inhabited by barely 800,000 people at the end of the Thirty Years War. After that, the population began to grow slowly . The increase was 0.74 percent annually in the period 1857–1880, 0.52 percent annually from 1880–1890, and 0.81 percent annually from 1890–1900. In 1900 there were 8 weddings, 35 live births and 24 deaths for every 1000 residents. For every 1,000 births there were 132 illegitimate and 34 stillborn babies. The population density was in 1900 122 inhabitants per km ². The northern districts bordering the German Empire were most densely populated, and the southern districts near Vienna were the least populated. In 1900 the population of Bohemia was divided into 7,415 municipalities and 12,846 localities with 772,552 houses. The population development was:

year 1772 1857 1880 1890 1900 1910
resident 2,314,795 4,705,527 5,560,819 5,843,094 6,318,697 6,769,548

According to the language, 37.3% of the population were German, 62.7% Czech. The latter lived in the central, eastern and south-eastern parts of the country, while the Germans mainly inhabited the border areas in the north and west. In addition, the Germans formed numerous linguistic islands in the Czech region in the large cities of Budweis , Prague and their surroundings.

language 1851 1880 1890 1900 1910
Czech , Slovak 2,621,450 (59.77%) 3,470,252 (62.41%) 3,644,188 (62.37%) 3,930,093 (62.20%) 4,241,918 (62.66%)
German 1,693,832 (38.62%) 2,054,174 (36.94%) 2,159,011 (36.95%) 2,337,013 (36.99%) 2,467,724 (36.45%)
Polish 1,303 498 1.915 1,541
Ukrainian (Ruthenian) 1,285 181 1.313 1,062
Slovenian 67 63 280 292
Serbo-Croatian (Serbian-Croatian) 37 11 190
Italian 141 113 264 136
Hungarian 0 0 48
Romanian 4th 0 33

According to religious beliefs, in 1905 96% of the population belonged to Catholicism, 2.8% to Protestant denominations and 1.5% to Judaism. The rest was divided into smaller religious communities. The religious distribution was (in order of currents) in 1915:

religion Relatives
Roman Catholic 6,475,835
greek catholic 1,691
Armenian Catholic 10
Old Catholic 14,631
greek-oriental 824
Armenian-oriental 10
Protestant (AB) 98,379
Protestant (HB) 78,562
Herrnhuter 891
Anglican 173
Mennonites 4th
Unitarians 20th
Lipowans 9
Jewish 85,826
Islamic 14th
Other denominations 1,467
non-denominational 11.204

Education and Health System

The National Museum in 1900

The education and health system in Bohemia was at a high level within the dual monarchy and was one of the most progressive in all of Europe at the time.

1900 were 5,509 public elementary and civic schools (2351 German, 3158 Czech) with a total of 24,640 teachers, school and 1,091,156 (with the inclusion of the 230 private schools) 1,093,948 school children visiting. In 1900 the country had 61 high schools and secondary schools (27 with German, 33 with Czech language of instruction), together with 1144 teachers and 14,477 students, 30 secondary schools (12 with German and 18 with Czech language of instruction), together with 643 teachers and 10.096 students. There were also 24 teacher training colleges in the kingdom. Universities were the Charles University in Prague (founded in 1348), from which a special Czech university was separated in 1882 (the German one in 1900 with 189 teachers and 1321 students, the Czech one with 196 teachers and 3143 students) and the German and Czech technical universities in Prague (the former with 49 teachers and 560 students, the latter with 86 teachers and 1179 students). Technical schools were a mining academy in Přibram, an art academy in Prague, four theological schools, five middle schools for agriculture and two for forestry, 56 lower agricultural schools, 96 trade and 421 trade schools, 2 mountain schools, 1 midwifery school, 270 music schools and 134 female labor schools , 136 child care institutions, 224 kindergartens (together with 39,441 children) and 130 other special teaching and educational institutions. The National Museum , founded in 1818, and the Emperor Franz Joseph's Czech Academy for Science, Spoken Word and Art also worked to promote higher education .

The health care system in Bohemia counted 1,899 to charitable institutions 166 hospitals with 9,756 beds and 104,460 patients treated in six mental hospitals with 6476 patients treated, a fertility and birthing Findelanstalt, four deaf-mute and two blind institutions with 421 or 213 pupils, 15 nurseries, 50 orphanages and 518 supply houses.

Denominational story

Central Europe in the age of the early Reformation (around 1530):
  • Roman Catholic
  • Protestant (either Lutheran or Reformed )
  • hussistic ( utraquistic )
  • Islamic
  • The Kingdom of Bohemia was one of the most powerful territories of the Holy Roman Empire and experienced an increase in power under the Premyslid and Luxembourg dynasties. Since the Bohemian kings were also Roman-German kings from 1346, the kingdom gained in reputation and took an advantageous position within the European Roman Catholic Church .

    The burning of the theologian and reformer Jan Hus on July 6, 1415 sparked violent protests in the kingdom. Since then, various Reformation or revolutionary movements have formed in the kingdom that have been directed against the Roman Catholic Church . These new movements came to be known collectively as the Hussites among Catholics . Historically, the Hussites had a stronghold in the Kingdom of Bohemia, but during the 15th century the movement was able to spread temporarily (often by military means) to Pomerania , Upper Palatinate , southern Poland , Slovakia and Hungary . As a result of the clashes with the Roman Catholic Church and also within this inconsistent movement (especially between radicals and moderates ), the Hussite Wars broke out in the years 1419–1434 . The disorder in the country began with the first lintel in Prague and gave rise to further heresies such as B. Picards / New Adamites . The Hussite Wars ended in a Catholic-Utraquist victory, but the kingdom could not actually achieve religious stability before 1485.

    Traditional Utraquism had been legally recognized in the Kingdom of Bohemia since 1436 by Basel compacts . The Hussite Utraquists formed a large majority (about 85%) of all Christians in the kingdom, especially among the population and some nobility. The rest (around 15%) were mostly a large minority of Catholics, many of whom were members of the Bohemian nobility. In 1457 the small Protestant group of the Bohemian Brothers split off from the utraquist Hussites. From 1458 to 1471 the first non-Catholic king of Europe, the Utraquist George of Podebrady, ruled in Bohemia . The belief of the new king caused widespread diplomatic outrage in Catholic Europe and led to war with the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus , which lasted from 1468 to 1479 and ended with the Peace of Olomouc . The Bohemian crown lands (especially Moravia and Silesia ) were conquered and brought back to Catholicism. The kingdom itself was not conquered. In 1485 the Basel compacts in Kutná Hora were confirmed by the Bohemian estates. The Vladislav regional order of 1500 did not introduce any legal restrictions for the Hussites. The Bohemian Diet of 1512 extended this agreement to "eternal times".

    From 1520 the Lutheran Reformation gained increasing influence in the kingdom . Lutheranism had spread particularly among German Bohemia . From 1525 various Anabaptist communities were founded . In 1575, on behalf of the non-Catholic countries of the Bohemian Crown, the Confessio Bohemica was written by Hussite neo-Utraquists and Lutherans . The Calvinism reached the kingdom of Bohemia late in the second half of the 16th century. Because of the confessional diversity of Bohemian Protestantism , the formation of a regional church did not succeed . The Protestant faiths achieved their recognition as permitted denominations with the majesty letter of 1609.

    In 1618, with the second lintel in Prague , the Thirty Years War broke out. In 1619 the kingdom united with other Bohemian crown lands (including the Catholic-Hussite Moravia , the Lutheran Silesia , the Catholic-Lutheran Upper Lusatia and the Lutheran Lower Lusatia ) to form the Bohemian Confederation . Under the Calvinist King Frederick V of the Palatinate , the Confederation declared Protestantism in fact the state religion .

    After the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620, the vast majority of the Hussites and other Protestants were eventually forcibly returned to Catholicism, expelled or fled to the remaining Protestant countries. The kingdom was now almost exclusively Roman Catholic with small Protestant communities that suffered discrimination from the Habsburg Roman Catholic authorities. The Bohemian Roman Catholic Church was now long-term shaped by crypto - Protestantism . An anti-Catholic sentiment led to the split of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church from the Roman Catholic Church in 1920 and has shaped the Czech Roman Catholic Church to this day.


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